Wednesday, December 29, 2021

My Old School Gaming Project

Spend any time here and you know that I do love my old-school gaming.  Also for me, my introduction to RPGs coincided with my introduction to computers.  For me, RPGs and computers have always gone hand-in-hand. 

So it should be no surprise then that if I am going to spend so much time working on bringing old-school games back to life I might be doing the same with old-school computers.

Here is my current project.  

Raspberry Pi CoCo

This a "proof of concept."  It is a 3D printed case, housing a Raspberry Pi with 8Gigs of RAM.  It is wifi enabled and has HDMI ports.  Currently running the CoCo-Pi software.

Back in 1985, I bought my first computer. It was a Tandy Color Computer 2 with 16k of ROM, a tape-cassette drive for storage and I  plugged it into a color TV.  One of the first things I did with it was to write programs to roll dice, do character abilities and even mimic combat.  Eventually, my DM and I would spend our gaming sessions working on some software we called "BARD" and it was a combat manager.  We could load 10 characters in at a time, roll for initiative and have them battle any number of monsters we wanted.  Some special abilities were a problem (beholders gave us no end of grief) but we had it worked out so that even dragons with breath weapons worked well. I even had a character, my one and only even ninja, killed by a black dragon, taking 70 hp of damage in the first attack. The death was so spectacular that my DM and I sat back and laughed our asses off as this black dragon attacked only the ninja and kept on attacking him until he was at -400 hp. 

It was great fun and I still have the source code.

Fast forward to later this year when my brother got me this:

CoCo 2

CoCo 2

That's not just any CoCo2, that is the one my DM and I wrote BARD on.  He had sold it to my brother years ago because one of the EPROM pins broke off and at the time it was too costly to replace and better computers were out.  I have even gone from my CoCo2 to a CoCo3, to a Tandy 1000, to an 8086, and then to an Intel 286 by that time.  I was getting ready to buy my next computer, my Gateway 486 that I upgraded for years until it got to be so full I needed to keep the case off and have fans blowing in. 

But I digress.  This "new" machine is close to 40 years old and I have been spending my Christmas break cleaning it, upgrading the internal components, and even 3D printing new parts for it.  What I have not be able to make or re-use I have been ordering online.

I hope to show her off soon.  Right now I need to stop so I can transfer some files to USB.  Yes, I got it working with some new USB ports.

This will be a lot fun.  Scratch that, this has been a lot of fun already.


Alec Semicognito said...

I've told people for years that the first first-person shooter computer game was Phantom Slayer for the Color Computer (I don't know if the CC2 was compatible).

Narmer said...

That's really cool! It sometimes boggles my mind how much could be done with so little.

Jack Tremain said...

so much beauty. Green screens are precious.

Are you a video game designer or something? What is BARD?

Timothy S. Brannan said...

@Alec Semicognito, If it worked on the CoCo 1 then it should work on the CoCo2. And hopefully my emulator.

@Narmer, I know. Crazy what I used to do with just 64k.

@Jack Tremain, I know right? But I am not a video game designer, just an enthusiastic tinkerer. BARD was the D&D combat software my DM and I wrote back int he 80s.